Project: Justice Heals
Justice Heals is an interdisciplinary team of a social worker, animal-assisted therapist, and veterinarian at Michigan State University.
U.S. campus statistics reflect a national crisis of sexual assault. One in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual violence during their college careers. Survivors of sexual crimes experience greater risks for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide.
Our approach is to use a trauma-informed and one welfare approach to animal assisted therapy with shelter dogs. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) has been successfully incorporated into sexual trauma treatment with a reported decrease in associated symptoms. Working with shelter dogs in particular may lead to improved outcomes for humans, as trauma survivors may empathize with shelter dogs perceived historical trauma. Concurrently, the dogs may experience enrichment and stress reduction. Thus, creating a “One Welfare” experience, an additional therapeutic option, and a sense of community to foster a Culture of Health.
Our goal is to develop and implement a curriculum that is proven positive for both human and dog participants. We will share more information when the project completes at the end of 2022.